“Just keep an eye out for anything out of the ordinary. Try to avoid going places alone. Call us if you need anything,” the FBI agent said calmly as I hugged my knees and sobbed.
I was no longer just an average member of society. I had been picked out of a sea of billions and called out as someone that ISIS wanted dead.
“Try to go about your life as usual, there are thousands on the list. You will be alright,” he added before shaking my mother’s shaking hand and leaving.
Being on this list feels like exhaustion. I can count on one hand the number of hours I sleep now. The circles under my eyes resemble the ones my grandfather wore at 88 years old. I am only 25.
The non-stop battle between logic and fear robs me of whatever energy I am able to get from my coffee in the morning.
They have no reason to hurt you
They’re everywhere and literally dying to make a point
They just release these lists to scare people and keep the FBI busy
Your father is a cop, your ex is in the military, they’re targeting you on purpose
When the opposing voices finally quiet down, the nightmares make sure to jolt me back to this twisted reality.
I lie awake waiting for machetes and machineguns to knock on my bedroom door.
Being on this list feels like a horror movie. The car swerving a little too close to me is probably doing this on purpose. I am alone, he knows who I am and he has a gun.
Those aren’t fireworks that I hear. They’re homemade bombs taking out others that were on the list. Others just like me. My home will be next.
That isn’t just a sweet street-vendor anymore. He probably has ‘Allahu Akbar’ tattooed somewhere under his colorful wrap and a picture of me in his studio apartment. One of these days his eyes will turn crazy and my family will mourn the pink mist that used to be me.
My boyfriend’s truck isn’t squeaking because a belt is loose. His breaks have been tampered with because he has spent far too much time by my side and I am not safe.
Being on this list feels like suffocation. The panic attacks consist of fainting and death fighting to see who can squeeze my lungs tightest.
The hyperventilation turns my vision grey and my body cold.
The image of a man on a train with an axe turns my brain warzone and my hands numb.
The other side spirals miles away. The side where breathing comes easily. The side where the sky is blue. The side where there is a smile on my face and no Xanax in my pocket.
Being on this list feels like I will never see that side again.